Top News

Bridge playing events in Pictou County dedicated to Alzheimer’s awareness

These women believe that playing the card game bridge has helped to  keep their minds sharp as they aged. Here, from the left: 103-year-old Helen Ward and her sister 101-year-old Gertriude MacDonald play a round with 76-year-old Audrey MacGillivray and 92-year-old Jean Hopton.
These women believe that playing the card game bridge has helped to keep their minds sharp as they aged. Here, from the left: 103-year-old Helen Ward and her sister 101-year-old Gertriude MacDonald play a round with 76-year-old Audrey MacGillivray and 92-year-old Jean Hopton. - Contributed

NEW GLASGOW

A local bridge club is going the distance to inform people about the benefits of playing the game.

Bridge is a trick-taking game played with a standard deck of cards where two partnerships challenge each other. It’s an entertaining pastime, but bridge may also serve as a tool to counter the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, the Alzheimer Association has pointed to the healthy aging benefits of games like bridge on its website.

The aspects of playing bridge, like building strategies and applying math skills, have been shown to strengthen the brain. In fact, some of the keenest minds play bridge. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have both played for years—sometimes even together. With an untold number of deals possible, players keep learning and improving every day. This is why bridge becomes a lifelong passion for many.

An example of this is two sisters from Pictou County, Helen Ward is 103 and her younger sister, Gertrude MacDonald is 101 and both of these women are avid bridge players and feel the game has helped them stay sharp and active.

Because of the possible links between bridge and brain health, the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) partners with The Longest Day, a national fundraising event led by the Alzheimer Association, in which participants raise money by doing an activity all day during the summer solstice.

The ACBL is an inaugural partner of this event and thousands of bridge enthusiasts gather across North America each year to raise money through playing bridge. After six years more than $3.5 million has been raised for Alzheimer’s research and care due to the efforts of bridge players.

In conjunction with the Longest Day fundraising event, the New Glasgow Duplicate Bridge Club is donating all of its proceeds during the week of June 18-22 to fight Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, they invite all bridge players to come to a “Shuffle and Play” bridge afternoon at the Sharon St John Church Hall on Tuesday, June 19, from 1 to 4 p.m. It is expected to be a fun afternoon of bridge at all levels. People are asked to make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Society.

Duplicate Bridge is a version of the game that removes the element of luck. With duplicate style, the focus is on players’ strategy because each partnership in the field plays the same cards. However, there is also social bridge and kitchen bridge to meet a variety of levels and interests for all.

The latest research also shows that staying socially active can be just as important to brain health as mental workouts. Bridge helps there, too, as four people are needed to play the game, and bridge clubs have multiple tables playing at the same time. But for those who prefer to play from home, online bridge games are available every day at a variety of websites like Bridge Based Online and OKbridge.

Those in Pictou County who are interested in learning or playing bridge can contact Audrey MacGillivary at 902-755-5924 or Charlie Fortune 902-771-1162. The New Glasgow Duplicate Bridge Club offers intermediate and novice lessons.

Recent Stories